Arlington cross country impresses at state

Seniors Paul Simbeck, left, and Luke Passalacqua ran their last race as Eagles at the state cross country meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco. -
Seniors Paul Simbeck, left, and Luke Passalacqua ran their last race as Eagles at the state cross country meet at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.
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The Arlington boys team sent two athletes to the state finals this year in Pasco, Wash. The Nov. 3 race proved to be a fine showcase for both Luke Passalacqua and Paul Simbeck. Both Eagles had excellent performances, Simbeck finishing 65th with a time of 17:34 and Passalacqua coming in 123rd at 18:31.
Both Luke and Paul ran tough as individuals, said Coach Mike Shierk. I was proud of them, theyve given an awesome effort these last four years. Both will have a chance to continue running at the next level.
The girls team faired even more impressively as a whole, finishing 15th in the entire state and placing five girls inside the top 100 finishers. Sophomore Safa Pinkens led the team with a 21:20 time, followed by freshman Bryna Prause at 22:10. Senior Sarah Rayner came in at 22:31 and freshman Kylie Granado in 22:42. Amye Ellsworth and Emily Merritt finished within two seconds of each other at 22:58 and 23:00 respectively. Rounding out the Arlington runners was Yuki Dorff at 23:42.
Our girls were unbelievable. At the beginning of the season our boys were looking solid, wed picked them to be district champs and we had extremely high goals for them. An assistant coach asked me, Do you think the girls have a chance? I leaned over and said I dont think they have a shot. They were too young. Boy did they prove the old coach wrong. They stepped up, they were consistent all season long.
The girls bought into the teams philosophy of running as a pack to produce better results. We wanted our top five to seven runners coming in together towards the finish, said Shierk.I suggested it to them and they executed it.
With six of the seven girls being either freshman or sophomores, its easy to envision great future success for the Eagles.
At the end of the season the girls were tired, theyd run a lot of races, said Shierk. It takes a lot to continue to get psyched up for each race.
The team will face even greater challenges next season as the school jumps to a 4A bracket.
Wed like to make a successful transition, said Coach Shierk. I believe we can improve our times and get back to the State tournament.

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